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New Jersey Family Lawyers Discuss How to Protect Adult Guardianship Rights with New Legislation

February 18, 2013 | Posted In Family Law - Adult Guardianship Rights

“Granny snatching” is quickly becoming the newest form of elder abuse, and New Jersey lawmakers are looking to enact legislation to prevent it, New Jersey family attorneys report. The New Jersey Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act would protect adult guardianship appointments made by New Jersey courts, even across state lines.

In many cases of elder care guardianship, a state court appoints one daughter as primary caregiver and guardian of an elderly parent, but this guardianship can be disputed by siblings and relatives in other states, especially if the parent travels between his or her children’s homes across the country. Children from other states can seek to overturn a New Jersey court decision and claim legal guardianship under their own state law instead. New Jersey family lawyers say that this practice, referred to as “granny-snatching,” tears apart families in legal battles and constitutes elder abuse by failing to provide a stable, caring environment for older parents who cannot care for themselves.

The Act defines jurisdictional issues without making changes to state guardianship law. Defining jurisdiction as “the connection the alleged incapacitated person has to the state,” the Act seeks to narrow the playing field for eligible guardians. If a New Jersey resident is seeking guardianship of his or her parent, the court must review evidence that New Jersey is the elder adult’s home state, or at least a signification connection state. Pending guardianship legislation is also taken into account, and NJ courts will reserve judgment if guardianship has already been decided in another state.

The Act also includes a provision that New Jersey appointments of guardianship will be established in other states as well, which is especially important if families visit one another across the country, New Jersey family lawyers say. Establishing New Jersey guardianship can prevent a power struggle from starting in another state, as courts will recognize the decision that is already in place.

By proposing open lines of communication between state courts, New Jersey family attorneys hope that this legislation, along with laws that have been put forth in other states, will create a network of protection for adults in need of guardianship. If you or your loved one is in need of legal representation and advice during a family guardianship feud, contact the NJ family lawyers at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA today.

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